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Sports

Is Bayern ready to party again?

Can Bayern clinch the next victory? Will title holder Borussia Dortmund manage to gain ground? The answers to those questions are just around the corner.

A lot can change very fast in what Germans call an "English Week" in the Bundesliga - a phrase used when there are mid-week matches in addition to weekend ones (like teams in England who never seem to get a break compared to their German counterparts).

But although the teams play three match days in the course of only nine actual days, one team can afford to take its eyes off the table with the current rankings: Bayern Munich. They already have a seven point lead on current title holders Borussia Dortmund. No matter what happens this weekend when they go up against Werder Bremen, Bayern will remain ahead of the reigning champions, and only surprise package Eintracht Frankfurt has even a chance of knocking them from the top of the table. There is a downside though, there is no other team which has managed to beat Bayern more often than Bremen.

Dortmund urgently need a victory following a surprise defeat at the hands of Hamburg and a draw in a dramatic game against Frankfurt. They shipped six goals in their last two league games.

"I think we have managed to digest those setbacks quite well," said an optimistic Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp. "Now we'll face Mönchengladbach, which has a different style of play and is in a different situation."

Fellow Borussia strugglers

Indeed Borussia Mönchengladbach have not managed a win in Dortmund in fourteen years and they still have to come to terms with the loss of some of their key players, like attacking midfielder and player of the year Marco Reus who left them for Dortmund at the end of last season. Furthermore, the new-look Dortmund have not looked that threatening going forward so far, which might be music to the Klopp's under-fire back line.

Many pundits have been surprised at Dortmund's weak performance of late. In the current Bundesliga table they rank only sixth - behind their arch rival Schalke 04 and  another newly-promoted outfit, Fortuna Düsseldorf.

Those two teams will be squaring off this weekend. And it will be a challenge for Fortuna to make sure they don't concede their first goal of the season. Düsseldorf are the only Bundesliga team, the only top-division team in all of Europe, to still have a clean slate so far into the season.

The third set of debutantes at Greuther Fürth have not been faring well. They managed to score only once in three home games, which they all lost. It is unlikely that they will be able to make good this weekend: They are travelling to Bayer Leverkusen, which is keen to continue its successful performance of late.

Down and dirty

Augsburg is firmly placed at the bottom of the table. What a botched start to the season it has been for them! Their opponent Hoffenheim, however, has managed to jump from the bottom of the table to the middle with the last two games, where they managed to score three times in each – almost wiping from memory their farcically bad performance from the first three games.

"But we must not take for granted that we can continue our winning streak," said a cautiously optimistic Hoffenheim coach Markus Babbel. "I knew that the start to the season could be a rough one. We're on the right way now, but we have to make sure we continue to follow it now," he said.

Hamburg will throw a big party on Saturday, no matter what. The club celebrates its 125th birthday on September 29. After a catastrophic start to the season, with no less than three defeats in a row, Hamburg have found their feet again with the return of Rafael Van der Vaart and gained confidence through its victory over champion Dortmund and a draw against Mönchengladbach.

"No one expected us to win four points in those two matches," said Hamburg coach Thorsten Fink. "Now we have to make sure that we win the next home game and bag those three points. Then we can all celebrate together and look back on a fantastic week."

But Hannover will be a tough opponent to beat. They are currently the number one team in Northern Germany. And they have every reason to be confident, after they managed to thrash Nuremberg 4-1 mid week. Hannover, however, will not find it easy to replace their Danish midfielder Leon Andreason, who has ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament and will again have to pause for several months.

Nuremburg will seek rehabilitation as they play host to an ailing Stuttgart. After their 3-0 defeat  at the hands of Hoffenheim in a mid-week derby the team of coach Bruno Labbadia is desperate to make good.

The run could continue

This season's surprise team is newly promoted Eintracht Frankfurt, which sits firm in second place of the table, and already has four points under its belt from this week alone. They managed to clinch a 3-3 draw against superstars Dortmund this week coming back spectacularly after trailing 0-2 at halftime.

They have every reason to be upbeat ahead of their Sunday match against Freiburg, which is number twelve in the table. The low-budget team from Germany's southeast looks back on a mixed performance with not much reason to party of late.

Finally, on Sunday Wolfsburg will come up against Mainz. Both teams have fallen behind expectations this season. Coach Felix Magath's high-quality team with Diego, Ivica Olic and Naldo has performed especially disappointingly so far.